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NYC families in the mix

Izumi Tezuka, center, is Japanese-American, and Francis Portillo

Izumi Tezuka, center, is Japanese-American, and Francis Portillo is from El Salvador.  (PHOTOS: ) Credit: Jason Andrew

Izumi Tezuka, center, is Japanese-American, and Francis Portillo is from El Salvador.

Nestled in the recently completed 2010 Census rests fresh evidence that marriages between people of different races and ethnicities are rising in New York City, experts said.

Such marriages are “rearranging the ethno-racial contours of our society,” said Richard Alba, distinguished professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

These unions foster increased equality, because “every intermarriage involving a white person means a whole group of other white people now have a non-white relative,” he said.

While NYC-specific numbers are elusive for now, almost 15 percent of all new U.S. marriages in 2008 were between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to a study released in June by the Pew Research Center. 

Intermarriage has doubled since the 1980s. Asians and Hispanics lead the diversity wedding march, with 31 percent and 26 percent, respectively, meeting someone of a different race or ethnicity at the altar. Sixteen percent of blacks and nine percent of whites married “out.”

While the Northeast lagged the West Coast in intermarriage rates (13 percent versus 22 percent),  the city might have led the poll had the numbers been broken out for the Big Apple, conceded Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center.

After all, New Yorkers are much more likely to fall in love with someone from a different background than a person living in a gated community in Kansas. While there is still residential segregation in NYC, in all social networks “there’s more mixture in every dimension,” said Philip Kasinitz, a CUNY sociology professor.

The Pew study revealed that college-educated people were more likely to marry out than people with a high school education or less.  While smarter people might be more broadminded, college is also one of the nation’s most critical pools for dating and mating. 

“New words and descriptions may have to evolve as the lines get fuzzier and fuzzier,” observed Passel, who added, “We’re heading in a direction where race and ancestry make a lot less difference in people’s life chances, and I think that’s a good thing.”

NYC’s diversity picture

  • Non-Hispanic whites: 35%
  • Hispanics: 27%
  • Non-Hispanic blacks: 23%
  • Asians: Nearly 12%

Source: American Community Survey from 2006-2008

9% of black females married outside their race in 2009

22% of black males married outside their race in 2009

1 in 7 Ratio of interracial and interethnic marriages

National statistics by Pew Research Center

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